PHARMACY

Berwick steps down from post as CMS administrator

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration confirmed last week that Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Donald Berwick will step down from his post on Dec. 2.

Berwick, who was nominated to the position by President Obama in April 2010, was supposed to lead the agency through the end of the year as part of his recess appointment.

Marilyn Tavenner, CMS principal deputy administrator, will succeed Berwick, according to a statement made by Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius.


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Bayer, Regeneron start phase-3 trial of Eylea for wet AMD in China

BY Alaric DeArment

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — Bayer HealthCare and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have started a late-stage clinical trial in China to evaluate a drug for eye disorders, the companies said Monday.

The drug makers announced the start of the phase-3 "SIGHT" trial of Eylea (aflibercept) injection for the treatment of the neovascular form of age-related macular degeneration, also known as wet AMD. The companies said the trial, which will include about 300 patients, will be the largest retinal trial conducted in China.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Eylea for wet AMD on Nov. 21.

 


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Pennsylvania Pharmacy Council expresses opposition of planned ESI-Medco merger

BY Allison Cerra

CAMP HILL, Pa. — The merger between pharmacy benefit managers Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions "could bring an end to community-based pharmacies and the convenient services provided there," according to the Pennsylvania Pharmacy Council.

The PPC — a partner council of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, a statewide trade association representing more than 1,100 retail food stores, and represents the legislative and regulatory interests of in-supermarket pharmacies — said the concentrated market share would give ESI and Medco "unprecedented power" to drive business away from community pharmacies and toward the PBMs’ mail-order businesses.

"Community pharmacists are accessible health providers that patients see regularly for medications and for personalized counseling," PPC SVP Randy St. John said. "They work in concert with other health professionals to ensure that patients receive the services they need to prevent illness or to get well. But the proposed Medco-ESI merger could bring an end to community-based pharmacies and the convenient services provided there."

PPC is one of several organizations that have recently spoken out in opposition of the merger, which would unite two of the three largest PBMs in the country.


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